To all you lovers of limericks and kilts, it’s time to limber up for Irishfest.
Though the festival itself is still weeks away — Aug. 10-12 — the Irish never celebrate tomorrow if they can do it today, so raise a glass in the Irish Toast Contest and prepare to bare your legs in the Kilt Contest.
Now, I’m not much for toasting given the fact that I’m rarely tipsy. Alas, I’m a lass who prefers Diet Coke to Guinness. What can I say. There’s rarely a slip ’twixt cup and lip when you’re drinking a cola. But you don’t have to imbibe to compose a winning toast, so get out your thesaurus and start rhyming.
Qualifying contests are at 8 p.m. July 31 at Sloopy’s Alma Mater and 8 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Onalaska American Legion. The finals will be Friday, Aug. 10, on the main stage at Irishfest. The rules are on the web-site, and so are toasts that have won in the past. And if you need a tankard of something cold to encourage you up to the stage, well, the contests are in pubs so you’ll be able to find some liquid courage right at hand.
As for the kilt contest, that will be at 9 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, at Dublin Square. Amadans will be playing from 6 to 9 p.m., and Cheech Hall will be playing from 10 p.m. to close, so it’s a tight window of time to choose the kiltiest of them all. But, really, how long does it take to pick out the jauntiest kilt wearer in the pub?
Kilt Contest organizer J.D. Oelke would like you to register in advance. He even has a registration deadline of Monday, July 23, and a registration form on the web. But this precise German knows how the Irish are.
“We ask them to preregister, but they’re not going to. So I’ve got to go down to Dublin Square early and if someone walks in with a kilt, I’ll say, ‘Hey, are you here for the Kilt Contest?’”
I hope just one of you kilt-clad gents says, “No, I just like to wear a kilt on Wednesdays.”
So, lads, don’t be afraid to show a little leg. As warm as it’s been of late, you might enjoy feeling a breeze up the kilt. But remember, unlike in the Highlands, underwear is mandatory and dangerous weapons are forbidden.
They’ll also be offering Highland Games at Irishfest again so start practicing your caber turning, stone throwing and sheaf tossing. Hey, who doesn’t enjoy a good sheaf tossing every now and then?
But the best contest of them all must be the Mashed Potato Contest. At 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 11, on the Irishfest grounds, people will compete to see who can eat the most mashed potatoes in this timed event. Entry is free so you can just go down with your hearty appetite and eat one of the most heavenly foods to ever come out of a peat bog.
There is one judge and two spotters to catch people who are trying to cheat by throwing their taters on the floor.
Now, I will admit that in my younger days I tossed green beans, carrots, corn and all other manner of vegetables onto the floor and under the table. But never in all my days did I try to dodge a mouthful of spuds. So if you’re a spuds dodger, don’t dishonor the Irish by showing up to the competition. Otherwise, come with an appetite and prepare to gobble down forkfuls of potato goodness.